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An overview of Malaysia's political history

Contributed by Anonymous on Wednesday, February 13 @ 08:39:50 CST

National: Politics
(Reuters) - Malaysia's premier called for fresh elections on Wednesday. The 12th election in Malaysia's history pits Abdullah's long-ruling Barisan Nasional coalition of 14 parties against three main opposition parties, the left-leaning Democratic Action Party, the Islamist party Parti Islam se-Malaysia and former deputy premier Anwar Ibrahim's Parti Keadilan.

Here are some key facts about Malaysia's political history: INDEPENDENCE: * Malaya, the 11 states in the Malay Peninsula that formed the southern-most tip of mainland Asia, gained independence from Britain on August 31, 1957. It was then a leading producer of commodities such as tin and rubber. * Led by the Tunku Abdul Rahman, an affable prince from Kedah state, Malaya prospered. It merged with the Borneo states of Sarawak and Sabah and Singapore to form Malaysia on September 16, 1963. TURBULENT SIXTIES: * Politics and a personality clash between Tunku Abdul Rahman and Singapore's then leader, Lee Kuan Yew, saw the island state separate from Malaysia in August 1965. * Tunku Abdul Rahman's ruling Alliance coalition suffered major setbacks in the May 12, 1969 elections, leading to racial riots a day later. -- No precise fatality figures have ever been given for the riots between ethnic Malay and Chinese communities, which caused parliament to be suspended for nearly two years as Malaysia was governed by emergency decree. -- Tunku Abdul Rahman, who once described himself as "the happiest prime minister in the world", resigned a year later, giving way to deputy Abdul Razak Hussein. COALITION CONSOLIDATES POWER: * Abdul Razak expanded the original Alliance coalition of three parties to include others such as the Islamist Parti Islam se-Malaysia (PAS) to contest the 1974 general elections. * The new-look coalition, known as the Barisan Nasional or National Front, won, and Abdul Razak embarked on an agricultural drive, emphasizing oil palm estates. * Abdul Razak died of leukemia while still in office in January 1976. His deputy, Hussein Onn, became Malaysia's third prime minister. * PAS left the expanded coalition as Hussein's United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) made inroads into Kelantan, its stronghold state. The National Front trounced PAS in Kelantan in the 1978 elections, but PAS regained control of the state in 1990. THE RISE OF MAHATHIR: * Hussein resigned for health reasons in July 1981 and his deputy, Mahathir Mohamad, who was once sacked from UMNO for criticizing Tunku Abdul Rahman in his book, "The Malay Dilemma", became prime minister. * During Mahathir's 22-year term, the longest by a Malaysian prime minister, he modernized the commodities-dependent economy that he inherited with industries ranging from electronics to vehicle manufacturing. He also built extensive infrastructure such as roads, ports, airports and the world's tallest twin towers, the Petronas Twin Towers. ASIAN CRISIS AND BEYOND: * The 1997 Asian economic crisis put a damper on break-neck development, but Mahathir's controversial capital controls paid off, and Malaysia made a stronger recovery than some neighbors. * Mahathir retired on October 31, 2003 in favor of his deputy, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. Despite poor health he continues to be an outspoken political presence, sniping at his successor. * Abdullah won the last elections in March 2004 by a landslide. Barisan Nasional took 12 of the country's 13 states, and more than 90 percent of seats in parliament, though with 63.8 percent of the vote. * In April 2006 he unveiled the Ninth Malaysia Plan, an economic blueprint for 2006-2010. Sources: Reuters



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